During Friday’s “First Take” on ESPN, Stephen A. Smith reacted to Colombian-born Atlanta Braves pitcher Julio Teheran plunking Dominican Republic-born Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista in the thigh the day after Bautista stared at Braves pitcher Eric O’Flaherty and flipped his bat on a home run while his team was trailing 8-3 in the 8th inning.
Teheran hit Bautista, who was involved in a scuffle in 2016 for showboating, and the outfielder took his base and the game continued.
“It’s America’s national past time,” Smith stated. “It’s associated with the past in certain ways that we don’t need to get into at this particular moment on this show, but every damn body knows what I’m talking about.”
Smith went on a rant lamenting how Major League Baseball, which he pointed out to have more white players, allows players to police themselves by throwing at each other while “predominantly African-American” sports like the National Football League and the National Basketball Association have rules for dress code and player safety, saying baseball “lends itself towards a culture that has never gone away.”
Partial transcript as follows:
[B]aseball in terms of its African-American population makes up about 6.7 percent of the baseball populous. Obviously, you have Latino players that make up over 27 percent. The rest are pretty much white players.
Obviously, they have always had a strong players’ union which assists in a lot of things that they are able to get away with because the league can impose but so much of its will, because unlike the other sports at least in years past, the players’ association wasn’t perceived as being nearly as strong as Major League Baseball, and to be honest with you, I think that is still the case.
As a result, because it is a predominantly white sport, it’s America’s national past time to the point where anti-trust laws and things of that nature favored them for decades more so than favored the National Football League or the National Basketball Association. I think it lends itself towards a culture that has never gone away, thus enabling Major League Baseball to consistently drag its feet, I’m not talking about the league office, I’m talking about the players as an association, the players as a body of individuals.
Let’s put this stuff in the consideration. You’ve got the NBA, you have stuff like a dress code. You ain’t never heard anything like that in baseball. In football you have all these rules and regulations emanating from the league office because we have to do whatever it takes to protect ourselves, whether it’s concussion issues or beyond, safety issues, et cetera, et cetera. You even have four ladies in the league office presiding over the league’s domestic violence policy and things of that ilk. You don’t hear about that with Major League Baseball.
Here we are with Major League Baseball, so let me get this straight, you can’t hit somebody in the head playing on the football field trying to tackle them, but you can throw 95, 96, 98-mile-per-hour fastballs at a dude’s head and all you get is the umpire pointing at both dugouts giving warnings and ultimately throwing you out and then you might get suspended for seven games out of 162 games in a year. You can throw 95-mile-per-hour fastballs to a dude’s head to a dude’s kneecap and then you are allowed to sit back and say “Y’all mind y’all’s business, we will police ourselves.”
This is not about the league. This is about the public allowing baseball players to get away with stuff they would never allow football players to get away with, they would never allow NBA players get away with. I’m going to say it again. Those sports have a vast majority of African-Americans playing in their sport. Everybody preaches control, but when it comes to baseball, vast majority of white players, we have folks sitting back saying, “Well, you know, that is the way it has always been.” I find that to be incredibly alarming.
Follow Trent Baker on Twitter @MagnifiTrent